Author Archives: George Simmers

After many years as a teacher, I retired and began researching for a Ph.D. on the fiction of the Great War – especially the books, stories and plays that were written during the War or immediately afterwards.

Send out the boys of the girls’ brigade

I’m thinking again about the chapter on soldiers’ songs that I’m writing for a collection on the the First World War and the Arts. In September 1914, a Times reader shared ‘the latest popular marching song from Aldershot’, whose words, he said, were the work of a sergeant in the Gordon Highlanders: Send out the […]

Letchworth (a footnote to John Buchan)

In John Buchan’s  Mr Standfast (1919), Richard Hannay is sent on an undercover mission to ‘the Garden City of Biggleswick’, to live among the   high-minded pacifists who set the place’s tone. One of the residents describes the city: ‘It is one great laboratory of thought,’ said Mrs Jimson. ‘It is glorious to feel that […]

Some better ones from Jessie Pope

Jessie Pope always gets a bad press these days, especially from teachers who use her as an example of how not to write a war poem. Was she always that dreadful? I’ve just become an Honorary Research Fellow at Sheffield Hallam University, and one of the perks is that I get access to databases through […]

War Art at Leeds

For the past few months, Marion and I have been attending the lectures on art and the First World War at Leeds Art Gallery. I blogged here about Sue Malvern’s excellent talk on Nevinson; even more memorable was the account of Herbert Read by his son Ben. I’m glad to say that the lectures are […]

‘An Arnold Bennett Companion’

The very good news is that An Arnold Bennett Companion, edited by John Shapcott, has now been published. The cover, by the way, is one of Bennett’s own watercolours. I’m especially interested in this book because it includes a chapter by me, on Arnold Bennett and the Great War.

Margate, 1922

In The Waste Land (1922). T.S. Eliot, having spent time in Margate while recovering from a nervous breakdown, wrote: “On Margate Sands. I can connect Nothing with nothing. The broken finger-nails of dirty hands. My people humble people who expect Nothing.” In 1922 (the annus mirabilis of modernism) Margate was also referenced in another key […]

‘For This I Had Borne Him’ by G. F. Bradby

During the Boer War, G.F. Bradby had written caustically about the way the British were conducting the campaign, and about the moral support given by the Church. As well as his Kipling parody, ‘Processional’, which I have mentioned before, he wrote, among other poems, ‘The Concentration Camps: October, 1901’: Five thousand little children’s graves upon […]

Why teach Jessie Pope?

Jessie Pope is no longer a household name, but during World War One she was one of the most widely read poets. After decades in obscurity she has re-emerged to become a fixture on the English literature syllabus, but for all the wrong reasons. That’s the beginning of The WW1 Poet Kids are Taught to […]

‘Blue Danube’ by Eunice Buckley

This novel begins in the 1890s, with a Jewish patriarch in Vienna counting his blessings: Today, the Lord be thanked, the Jews were neither despised nor rejected, but mingled with the Gentiles on terms of equality: in some instances might it not even be proper to say on terms of superiority? When the book was […]

G. F. Bradby

Last week, as I mentioned, I was impressed by this Kipling parody, which I found in the conscientious objectors’ magazine, The Tribunal Processional Lord God of battles, whom we seek On clouds and tempests throned afar, When, tired of being tamely weak, We maffick into deadly war. If it should chance to be a sin, […]

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